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Manning Retirement Leaves Roethlisberger, Rivers To Carry On Famed 2004 QB Draft Class Torch

The long NFL career of New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, the first overall selection in the 2004 NFL Draft, will come to an end on Friday. According to several Wednesday media reports Manning, will announce his retirement from NFL after 16 seasons in a Friday press conference.

Manning, who played a total of 236 regular season games with the Giants, will end his NFL career having thrown for 57,023 yards and 366 touchdowns. He won two Super Bowls with the Giants during his career and both came at the expense of the New England Patriots. Manning was named the MVP of both of those Super Bowls. His career record as a starter was just 117-117-0, however.

Originally drafted first overall in the 2004 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers, Manning, who had long made it known that he didn’t want to be selected by them, essentially forced a post-selection trade. The Chargers traded Manning to the Giants in exchange for quarterback Philip Rivers, the fourth overall selection in that year’s draft, and multiple draft picks on draft day.

Manning spent most of the 2019 season backing up rookie quarterback Daniel Jones, who the team selected in the first-round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Manning started the Giants first two games of the 2019 regular season but was then benched in favor of Jones. Manning would start two more games later in the season in place of an injured Jones. He and the Giants beat the Miami Dolphins in his final start in Week 15.

With Manning now retiring, that leaves Rivers and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as the two remaining first-round members of that famed 2004 quarterback draft class. The NFL future of Rivers is currently up in air right now as he’s scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in March. That means he’s likely played his last game with the Chargers, who moved from San Diego to Los Angeles a few seasons ago.

Rivers currently leads both Manning and Roethlisberger in passing yardage and passing touchdowns on the NFL’s all-time list. Roethlisberger is in third behind Rivers and Manning in both of those statistical categories but probably not for long.

With Manning (57,023) now retiring, Roethlisberger (56,545) needs just 479 more passing yards to pass his draft class member on the NFL’s all-time passing yardage leader list. Roethlisberger is currently eighth on that list while Manning sits at seventh, one spot behind Rivers (59,271). Roethlisberger (363) also needs four more touchdown passes to pass Manning (366) on the NFL’s all-time touchdown pass leader list. Manning is currently seventh on that list as well with Roethlisberger being in ninth place. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (364) is currently eighth overall.

With Manning now retiring, I can’t help to think back to a video that Dave Dameshek of the NFL Network did a few years ago. That video speculated what might have happened had Manning stayed with the Chargers instead of being traded to the Giants. Dameshek theorized in that video that had Manning decided to play for the Chargers that the Giants would have drafted Roethlisberger fourth overall instead of Rivers. He then speculated that the Steelers would have drafted Rivers eleventh overall.

In case you’re curious, Manning and Roethlisberger faced off against each other four times since entering the NFL in 2004 and the latter won three of those games. The first meeting between the two quarterbacks came during their 2004 rookie seasons and Roethlisberger and the Steelers won that game 33-30. Manning’s lone win against Roethlisberger came in 2008.

Manning’s older brother, Peyton Manning, will be a first ballot Hall of Famer in 2021. Eli Manning will surely be a first-ballot Hall of Famer as well as soon as his five year wait time has ended. Roethlisberger, whenever he finally calls it career, should be as well.

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